December 12, 2012
Jyrki Hokkanen, a Finnish biologist, in August filmed a wild Sunda clouded leopard (Neofelis diardi) in Danum Valley, an area of protected rainforest in Sabah. He was on a night walk with his wife and guide when the group spotted the eye-shine of the cat.
The BBC describes the sighting:
"We saw an unusually big pair of eyes about ten meters ahead," Hokkanen told BBC Nature. "The eyes pointed at us and did not move and a round face was just about visible in the flashlight."
Dr Hokkanen began to film the animal which then moved through the vegetation and disappeared.
"I knew it had been a cat," he said. "It could not have been anything other than the Sunda clouded leopard."
Dr Hokkanen, his wife and guide continued forward on the trail they were walking, in an attempt to find the animal again.
"Then suddenly an eye shine appeared very low, now on the right hand side. This was not what we expected, since the cat had disappeared to the left. Through my viewfinder I saw a leopard raising up from the undergrowth, where it had been hiding, and looking at us."
Both species are rarely seen and endangered by habitat loss. The biggest threat to the Sunda clouded leopard is conversion of rainforests into oil palm plantations. Poaching is a further danger to the species in some areas.